The next big things Following fashion’s lead

Gilles Vidal, head of Peugeot design, on what car makers can learn from luxury brands

> DIFFERENTIATION AND brand strategy is a big thing at PSA. Thierry Metroz [at DS], Alex Malval [Citroën], Mark Adams [Vauxhall/Opel] and I meet very often and show each other our future projects, our future design trends, our future design DNA.
> IF BY mistake, or by luck mixed with mistake, an idea would look similar to someone else’s idea, we talk about how we move this to an even more Peugeot thing or an even more DS thing, or who stops what to let the other one do it.
> WHAT COUNTS more than anything is what a brand stands for, and what are its codes.

> IF YOU look at fashion brands, they make no mistakes. Ever. Within even the same group, these huge luxury groups that own many, many luxury brands in fashion, they don’t feel the same, they don’t look the same, it’s very cleverly dealt with.
> IN THE automotive industry there are a few big groups in the world and really we need to be super careful about this.
> IF YOU look at [Peugeot] 3008 and [Citroen] C5 Aircross and DS 7 Sport-back and Opel Grandland, they share 83 or 87 per cent common parts – it’s huge – and they don’t look the same at all. And at this time [when those cars were designed] we didn’t have that strategy yet, we were not organised as much as today.
> WE NEED to find the right balance between high creativity and the will to innovate, and focus on execution and quality control. That can be a problem in the French culture – that focus on being highly creative.
> THE INTERIOR of a car is more and more important. It’s not like an Apple, it can never be so easy in a car. You have to keep concentrating on the driving, and doing other things at the same time. There’s a lot of things in your mind. But when you’re playing with your iPad that’s all you’re doing. That’s why we have created the i-Cockpit logic. We have split things instead of merging them into each other, and we kept physical keys for direct access to the main functions. And then the next step is to go into the screen and deal with it.
> WE HAVE to find the subtle and right balance between what’s in the screen and what’s out. We play a lot with what we call ‘phygital’ – the balance between physical and digital. There’s a lot of thinking about how – within the constraints of the car – we can be as intuitive as possible.
> THE WAY to make it happen is different from an iPad, but it follows the same logic.
> WE NEED to push on every possible lever. Design in terms of pure aesthetics, in terms of user experience, digital content, material, connectivity.

FRESH THINKING Beat travel sickness

Free time in self-driving cars? No fun if you’re puking…

No cure for travel sickness has been found in the 130-odd years since the car was invented.

What’s changed?

In self-driving cars we will all be passengers, and it’s passengers who tend to suffer. In theory, once freed from the tyranny of the steering wheel we’ll be able to catch up on emails, maybe do some knitting. But not if it makes us ill.

Someone’s cracked it?

No, but progress is being made by, among others, JLR. They’ve recorded 15,000 miles of data, measuring the link between motion sickness and in-car activity such as texting.

How does this data help?

In personalising a car’s set-up – from the suspension to the ventilation – to minimise the risks. Things such as seat height can make a big difference. So can having the sat-nav audible, so occupants can anticipate changes in direction. And a cooling-seat function can make a world of difference, as many have already found. The findings of this ongoing project will feed into JLR’s design process, to give the company an edge when it’s creating cabins that people will want to pay a premium to be driven in.
And if you can’t stretch to a new Jag?

Take a deep breath and look out of the window.

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